GT Regional Airport Doing Record Business
STARKVILLE – Courtesy of The Dispatch
Golden Triangle Regional Airport Director Mike Hainsey recently spoke to the Starkville Rotary Club, where he told them that the airport has been doing record business: “Last month, we put more people on airplanes than any other October in the history of the airport,” he said. “That was a big number — we were running 90 percent full. … This month, we’re doing the same, which means we’ll have another record month. We’ll have a record November, if it continues.”
The airport, has done about $3.5 million in improvements in the last 18 months. Hainsey said that the improvements include work on the commercial and general aviation ramps, as well as a taxiway renovation that should finish this week. GTRA is also replacing old ramp and terminal lightning with more modern, energy efficient lights.
A 4,000 sq ft expansion is also in the works:”Our plan for the future is, as the airport grows, we’ll have bigger airplanes and we’ll need jet bridges so we’ll move everything upstairs,” he said.
He did note, however, that a shortage of pilots for the major airlines is likely to cause business to suffer in the future – especially for GTR and other smaller, regional airports: “This is, for us in the business, the single biggest threat to air service at my airport,” Hainsey said.
While airports are able to offer incentives to get more flights coming through them, the issue isn’t that, so much as the fact that the pilot population is dwindling as more and more pilots reach the mandatory pilot retirement age of 65. “They told me they have no new markets out of Dallas this next year,” he said. “They don’t know if they can man their existing markets. They can’t grow if they can’t — until it’s sure what’s going to happen with the pilot shortage. It’s getting that bad.”
“The bottom line on all this–for us to get air service, we have to take it from someone else,” he said. ” … For us to get air service, we’ll have to convince the airlines they’ll make more money at GTR than they will at other places. So we’re working that. We have a good case.”